Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS6104410 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 08/784,066
Publication dateAug 15, 2000
Filing dateJan 17, 1997
Priority dateJan 17, 1997
Fee statusPaid
Publication number08784066, 784066, US 6104410 A, US 6104410A, US-A-6104410, US6104410 A, US6104410A
InventorsShui-Ying Wong
Original AssigneeShui-Ying Wong
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for displaying stacked symbols to create a multi-dimensional view
US 6104410 A
Abstract
The current invention provides both location and magnitude representations in a geographic information system (GIS) environment. To indicate the locations, symbols are plotted on a map. To indicate magnitude, repeated symbols are stacked on top of each other. The higher the stack of symbols, the bigger the magnitude. The number of symbols to be stacked will be proportional to any scaling scheme. The position or coordinate of the symbols to be stacked will be based on any mathematical function. The size the symbols to be stacked will be based on any mathematical function. The color of the symbols to be stacked will be based on any function applicable to color. The shape of the symbols to be stacked will be based on any function applicable to shape or object, or according to a look-up table.
Images(43)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(15)
I claim:
1. A method for creating a multi-dimensional visual representation of underlying information comprising the steps of:
reading geographic information;
reading source information to be plotted in relation to the geographic information;
sorting the source information in accordance with geographic coordinates of the geographic information;
displaying plural stacks of symbols in accordance with respective geographic coordinates, the number of symbols in each stack being indicative of the quantity of the source information associated with each set of geographic coordinates, the stacks comprising the symbols arranged in accordance with a predetermined mathematical stacking function.
2. A method as recited in claim 1, further comprising the step of inputting symbol information related to the symbols displayed in said displaying step.
3. A method as recited in claim 2, wherein the symbol information in said inputting step comprises at least one of information relating to a symbol style, information relating to a symbol size, information relating to a symbol color, and information relating to a value of the quantity of the source information represented by each symbol.
4. A method as recited in claim 3, wherein said step of reading geographic information comprises opening a file containing a lookup table of geographic coordinates in a standard GIS format, said step of reading source information comprises opening a file containing records of the source information, said step of inputting comprises displaying a dialog box for a user to enter the symbol information, and said step of sorting comprises creating a mapable table having columns corresponding to the geographic coordinates and the source information.
5. A method as recited in claim 4, wherein said step of displaying, comprises generating plural symbols in accordance with the symbol information, arranging the symbols into the plural stacks in accordance with the stacking function and the mapable table, and displaying the plural stacks.
6. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the stacking function is linear.
7. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the stacking function is non-linear.
8. An apparatus for creating a multi-dimensional visual representation of underlying information comprising:
means for reading geographic information;
means for reading source information to be plotted in relation to the geographic information;
means for sorting the source information in accordance with geographic coordinates of the geographic information;
means for displaying plural stacks of symbols in accordance with respective geographic coordinates, the number of symbols in each stack being indicative of the quantity of the source information associated with each set of geographic coordinates, the stacks comprising the symbols arranged in accordance with a predetermined mathematical stacking function.
9. An apparatus as recited in claim 8, further comprising means for inputting symbol information related to the symbols.
10. An apparatus as recited in claim 9, wherein the symbol information comprises at least one of information relating to a symbol style, information relating to a symbol size, information relating to a symbol color, and information relating to a value of the quantity of the source information represented by each symbol.
11. An apparatus as recited in claim 10, wherein said means for reading geographic information comprises means for opening a file containing a lookup table of geographic coordinates in a standard GIS format, means for reading source information comprises means for opening a file containing records of the source information, said means for inputting comprises means for displaying a dialog box for a user to enter the symbol information, and said means for sorting comprises means for creating a mapable table having columns corresponding to the geographic coordinates and the source information.
12. An apparatus as recited in claim 11, wherein said means for displaying, comprises means for generating plural symbols in accordance with the symbol information, means for arranging the symbols into the plural stacks in accordance with the stacking function and the mapable table, and means for displaying the plural stacks in a visible form.
13. An apparatus as recited in claim 8, wherein the stacking function is linear.
14. An apparatus as recited in claim 8, wherein the stacking function is non-linear.
15. A multi-dimensional display representation of underlying geographic and source information in which the source information indicates quantities related to geographic coordinates of the geographic information, said display comprising:
a map representing the geographical information;
plural stacks of symbols positioned in accordance with respective geographic coordinates of the map, the number of symbols in each of said stacks being indicative of the quantity of the source information associated with each set of geographic coordinates, said stacks comprising said symbols arranged in accordance with a predetermined mathematical stacking function.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to the field of data presentation and computer graphics. More specifically the invention relates to the stacking or arrangement of symbols on top of one another, creating a multi-dimensional visual impression in a geographic information system (GIS) environment. As a result, the invention provides the location and magnitude indications of data in a geographic information system (GIS) environment.

2. Description of the Related Art

In the present geographic information system environment, it is common practice to use different size of symbols to represent intensity or frequency of occurrence. For example, on a map of the United States, to indicate the location of major cities, one usually draws a dot on the map where each city is located. To indicate the population size of each city, one approach is to vary the size of the dot. That is, cities with higher populations will be represented by bigger dots. The advantage of this approach is that a viewer has direct impression of the relative size as well as the location of major cities. The disadvantage is that the dot size of some cities (such as New York) are so big compared to the others (such as Washington D.C.) that they may block other details (such as roads, states lines) on the map. Another approach is to use different colors (or symbols) to indicate different population sizes. The advantages is that it will not block other details on the map, because all cities have the same size of symbols. The disadvantage is that a viewer has to look at the legend to find out what color or what symbol representing what population sizes. Therefore this approach does not give the viewer a direct impression of the size and location. A variation of this approach is to use darker colors to represent higher populations. The is fine if there are only a few categories. If there are many categories, it will be difficult to distinguish which colors are darker. Another approach is to use a vertical or horizontal bar. The bar can be placed on the map where the city is located, to indicate location. The height or width of the bar is proportional to the city's population size, to indicate magnitude. By looking at the location and height (for vertical bar) or width (horizontal bar) of the bar, one can get an both location and magnitude impression. In this approach, although one can choose any color or size of the bar, however, one is limited to the single shape and form (that is, limited to the shape and form of a bar only).

The current invention is to provide another approach to both location and magnitude representations. To indicate the locations of major cities, as mentioned in the above example, each city will be represented by a symbol on the map. To indicate different population size of each city, repeated symbols will be stacked on top of each other. The higher the stack of symbols, the higher the population. One can choose any style, color or size of symbols. One can stack or arrange the symbols according to any mathematical functions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The current invention provides both location and magnitude representations. To indicate the locations of major cities, for instance, each city will be represented by a symbol on the map. To indicate different population size of each city, repeated symbols will be stacked on top of each other. The higher the stack of symbols, the higher the population.

The number of the symbols to be stacked will be proportional to any scaling scheme. For instance, if one symbol represents 100,000 persons, a city with population between 500,001 and 600,000 will have 6 symbols stacked on top of one another, while a city with 100,000 or less will have a single symbol.

The way the symbols to be stacked will be as follows:

The position or coordinate of the symbols to be stacked will be based on any mathematical function. That is, the coordinate of the first or base symbol will be of certain initial value. The coordinate of the second, third, . . . symbol will be based on any mathematical function.

The size of the symbols to be stacked will be based on any mathematical function. That is, the size of the first or base symbol will be of certain initial value. The size of the second, third, . . . symbol will be based on any mathematical function.

The color of the symbols to be stacked will be based on any function applicable to color. That is, the color of the first or base symbol will be of certain initial value. The color of the second, third, . . . symbol will be based on any function applicable to color.

The shape of the symbols to be stacked will be based on any function applicable to shape or object, or according to a look-up table. That is, the shape of the first or base symbol will be of certain initial value. The shape of the second, third, . . . symbol will be based on any function applicable to shape or object. The symbol can be of any shape. Furthermore, the symbol can be two- or three-dimension.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a map of United States showing the locations of major cities. The location of each city is represented by a symbol on the map.

FIG. 2 is a map of United States showing the locations of major cities with different population sizes. Cities with higher populations are represented by a bigger circle on the map.

FIG. 3 is a map of United States showing the locations of major cities with different population sizes. Cities with higher populations are represented by higher vertical bars.

FIG. 4 is a an example of stacking of symbols to create multi-dimensional view. It consists of a map of United States showing the locations of major cities with different population sizes. Cities with higher populations have higher stack of symbols.

FIGS. 5A to 5G are similar to FIG. 4, except that different symbols and stacking functions are used to plot the symbols to represent population sizes.

FIG. 6 is a table showing the number of accidents occurred in some intersections in San Francisco.

FIG. 7 is a map of San Francisco showing the locations of where accidents occurred and the relative number of accidents at each location. Locations with higher accidents have higher stack of symbols.

FIGS. 8A to 8D are similar to FIG. 7, except different symbol is used to plot the accidents and different zooming levels (or scales) of the map are shown.

FIG. 9 is a flow chart showing how the symbols are stacked to create multi-dimensional view.

FIGS. 10A-10Y are a listing of source code for implementation in a geographic information system (GIS) software.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In order to understand the invention, a typical way of displaying location and magnitude of data will be first described. To indicate the locations of major cities in a map, say of the United States, each city will be represented by a dot on the map, as shown in FIG. 1. To indicate the population size of each city, one approach is to vary the size of the dot. That is, cities with higher populations will be represented by bigger dots, as shown in FIG. 2. Another approach is to use different heights of bars to indicate different population sizes, as shown in FIG. 3.

The invention is as follows. To indicate the locations of major cities in a map, say of the United States, each city will also be represented by a symbol on the map. To indicate different population size of each city, however, repeated symbols will be stacked on top of each other. The higher the stack of symbols, the higher the population, as shown in FIG. 4. The invention allows people to choose different symbols and different ways of stacking the symbols, as shown in FIGS. 5A to 5G. The invention can display any data. FIG. 6 shows the number of accidents occurred in some intersections in San Francisco. FIG. 7 shows how the location and number of accidents can be displayed on a map. In FIG. 7, if there is an accident occurred in an intersection, a symbol will be plotted on that intersection in the street map. Some intersections will have more accidents than the others. This phenomenon is also represented by FIG. 7--the higher the stack of symbols, the more the accidents occurring at that location. FIGS. 8A to 8D show different symbols and zoom levels of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 shows how the symbols are stacked to create multi-dimensional view in a geographic information system (GIS) software. In step 1, the GIS software opens the street map files for displaying the street map. In step 2, the GIS software opens a file containing a look-up table of intersection name and the coordinates of each intersection. Name this table INTERSEC. In step 3, the GIS software opens the table or file containing all records that need to be plotted on the street map. Name this table as SOURCE. This table or file is usually resulted from sorting through a raw file with records meeting user defined criteria. Step 4 is a mechanism of getting user's input regarding style, size, and color of each symbol; the number of data item per symbol; and the minimum number of data item to be plotted. This is usually in the form of a dialog box where the user can pick or fill in the blank for such information. These information are then stored in variables SYMBOL-- STYLE, SYMBOL-- SIZE, SYMBOL-- COLOR, NO-- PER-- SYMBOL and PLOTMIN respectively. In step 5, a table with two columns, INTERSECTION and NO-- OF-- DATA-- ITEM, is created. Name this table as PLOT-- TAB. Make this table mappable, that is, this table will contain mappable objects. In step 6, sort the records in table SOURCE according to intersection name. Then count the number of occurrence for each intersection. For each record of table SOURCE, put the intersection name and its occurrence respectively into columns INTERSECTION and NO-- OF-- DATA-- ITEM of each record of table PLOT-TAB. That is, if intersection AAA occurred in table SOURCE 5 times, table PLOT-- TAB will have 5 records. Each of these 5 records will have an "AAA" under the INTERSECTION column and a "5" under the NO-- OF-- DATA-- ITEM column. In step 7, fetch the first record from table PLOT-- TAB. Step 8 checks if column NO-- OF-- DATA-- ITEM greater than or equal to PLOTMIN. If no, meaning no need to plot the data, then go to the next record. If yes, then go to step 9. In step 9, get the intersection name from INTERSECTION column of current record, then search table INTERSEC to find a matching intersection name. If a match is found, in step 10, then get the intersection's x and y coordinates from table INTERSEC, in step 11. In step 12, define PLOTNUM as an integer function of PLOTMIN divided by NO-- PER-- SYMBOL. PLOTNUM is the number of stacked symbols to be plotted. In step 13, check if NO-- OF-- DATA-- ITEM modulus NO-- PER-- SYMBOL greater than 0. If yes, then PLOTNUM equals PLOTNUM+1, in step 14. If no, skip step 14. In step 15, for I equals 1 to PLOTNUM, repeat steps 16, 17 and 18. Step 16 is to save the coordinate in variable COORDINATE. The coordinate can be any function of x and y, where x and y are obtained from table INTERSEC in step 11. In step 17, create an object which has the attributes as defined by the following variables: SYMBOL-- STYLE, SYMBOL-- SIZE, SYMBOL-- COLOR, and COORDINATE. In step 18, insert the object into table PLOT-- TAB. In step 19, fetch next record from table PLOT-- TAB. In step 20, check if table PLOT-- TAB has reached the end of file. If no, go to step 8. If yes, plot or map from table PLOT-- TAB.

In step 6, If table SOURCE has already contain the name of intersection and the number of occurrence per intersection, then we do not need to sort table SOURCE. We simply put the intersection name and its occurrence respectively into columns INTERSECTION and NO-- OF-- DATA-- ITEM of each record of table PLOT-TAB. That is, if intersection AAA occurred in table SOURCE 5 times, table PLOT-- TAB will have 5 records. Each of these 5 records will have an "AAA" under the INTERSECTION column and a "5" under the NO-- OF-- DATA-- ITEM column.

We used street map as the geographic location reference and we used intersection as the locational point to be plotted. One can use any map or any geographic location reference. One can use any locational points to be plotted.

FIGS. 10A-10Y are examples of the source code to be used in MapInfo. MapInfo is a commercially available GIS software from MapInfo Corporation, Troy, N.Y. The source code in FIGS. 10A-10Y are examples of how the invention can be implemented in a commercial GIS product. Similar source code can be adapted for use in any other commercial GIS product.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5228119 *Nov 2, 1990Jul 13, 1993Temple UniversityMulti-dimensional graphing in two-dimensional space
US5461708 *Apr 17, 1995Oct 24, 1995Borland International, Inc.Systems and methods for automated graphing of spreadsheet information
US5491779 *Apr 3, 1992Feb 13, 1996Bezjian; Richard D.Three dimensional presentation of multiple data sets in unitary format with pie charts
US5509112 *May 24, 1994Apr 16, 1996Kabushiki Kaisha ToshibaPresentation support environment system
US5553209 *Jan 28, 1994Sep 3, 1996Hughes Aircraft CompanyMethod for automatically displaying map symbols
US5553211 *Apr 17, 1995Sep 3, 1996Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd.Overlapping graphic pattern display system
US5623590 *Sep 7, 1993Apr 22, 1997Lucent Technologies Inc.Dynamic graphics arrangement for displaying spatial-time-series data
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1 *Tufte, Edward R., The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, p. 119, 1983.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6577304 *Aug 13, 1999Jun 10, 2003I2 Technologies Us, Inc.System and method for visually representing a supply chain
US6847888Mar 6, 2003Jan 25, 2005Hrl Laboratories, LlcMethod and apparatus for geographic shape preservation for identification
US6867788 *Jun 8, 1999Mar 15, 2005International Business Machines CorporationView composition system for synthesizing multiple visual representations of multiple data sets
US7269801 *Mar 30, 2004Sep 11, 2007Autodesk, Inc.System for managing the navigational usability of an interactive map
US7743346Aug 28, 2007Jun 22, 2010Autodesk, Inc.System for managing the navigational usability of an interactive map
US7801950 *Jun 1, 2007Sep 21, 2010Clustrmaps Ltd.System for analyzing and visualizing access statistics for a web site
US7930072Aug 28, 2007Apr 19, 2011Autodesk, Inc.System for managing the navigational usability of an interactive map
US8352397Sep 10, 2009Jan 8, 2013Microsoft CorporationDependency graph in data-driven model
US8411085Jun 27, 2008Apr 2, 2013Microsoft CorporationConstructing view compositions for domain-specific environments
US8493406Jun 19, 2009Jul 23, 2013Microsoft CorporationCreating new charts and data visualizations
US8531451Jun 19, 2009Sep 10, 2013Microsoft CorporationData-driven visualization transformation
US8599203 *Dec 20, 2007Dec 3, 2013Yahoo! Inc.Systems and methods for presenting visualizations of media access patterns
US8620635Jun 27, 2008Dec 31, 2013Microsoft CorporationComposition of analytics models
US8692826Jun 19, 2009Apr 8, 2014Brian C. BeckmanSolver-based visualization framework
US8788574Jun 19, 2009Jul 22, 2014Microsoft CorporationData-driven visualization of pseudo-infinite scenes
US8866818 *Jun 19, 2009Oct 21, 2014Microsoft CorporationComposing shapes and data series in geometries
US20080051994 *Aug 28, 2006Feb 28, 2008Microsoft CorporationRepresentation and display of geographical popularity data
US20100321391 *Jun 19, 2009Dec 23, 2010Microsoft CorporationComposing shapes and data series in geometries
US20120218150 *Oct 21, 2010Aug 30, 2012Ntt Docomo, Inc.Management server, population information calculation management server, non-populated area management method, and population information calculation method
US20130091436 *Nov 29, 2012Apr 11, 2013Linkedin CorporationContent visualization
CN100386723CApr 25, 2006May 7, 2008武汉大学GIS universal symbol system based on virtual machine and construction method thereof
WO2004015634A1 *Aug 7, 2003Feb 19, 2004Michael J DailyMethod and apparatus for display of geospatially-based data
WO2006017750A2 *Aug 5, 2005Feb 16, 2006William BevingtonVisualization tool
WO2008142648A2 *May 21, 2008Nov 27, 2008William Ernest Rutherford-SmithGeospatial arrangement of data
Classifications
U.S. Classification345/440
International ClassificationG06T11/20
Cooperative ClassificationG06T11/206
European ClassificationG06T11/20T
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 4, 2004REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Jun 28, 2004SULPSurcharge for late payment
Jun 28, 2004FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Feb 11, 2008FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Feb 8, 2012FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 12